Monday, January 28, 2013

Gbagbo ally faces more charges

January 18, 2013 (Page 3 Lead) TEN additional charges of robbery have been preferred against the former Spokesperson of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, Justin Katinan Kone, who had initially faced 10 counts of robbery. However, the Presiding Judge at the Osu District Magistrate Court, Mr Aboagye Tandoh, yesterday advised the prosecution to relate the charges to Ivorian laws, since the alleged crimes were committed in Cote d'Ivoire. The state is currently praying the court to extradite Kone to Cote d'Ivoire to face criminal charges. At the court's sitting in Accra yesterday, a Chief State Attorney, Mr Matthew Amponsah, indicated that his outfit had prepared the charge sheet and the facts of the case but conceded that the defence team had not been served. He then served a copy of the documents on counsel for Kone, Mr Patrick Sogbodjor. The judge then observed that although the facts of the case related to Ivorian laws, the charge sheet only quoted Ghanaian laws. He, therefore, suggested that the state should relate the charges to Ivorian laws. He also urged the state to furnish the defence team with relevant documents. Mr Tandoh stressed that the state had a duty to establish a prima facie case against Kone to warrant his extradition. He also tasked the state to find out whether or not Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana had an extradition agreement, since Mr Sogbodjor had argued that there was no such legal arrangement between the two countries. Hearing continues on January 29, 2013. An Ivorian court had, on August 16, 2012, issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Kone, who had been living in Ghana as an asylum seeker since April 13, 2011. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) District Magistrate Court, on October 24, 2012, discharged Kone on murder charges on the grounds that the police had failed to justify why he should continuously be held for murder under Ghanaian laws when the alleged murder was committed in Cote d'Ivoire. Kone was first put before the Osu District Magistrate Court on September 3, 2012 but was later arraigned before the AMA District Court on October 1, 2012 for allegedly murdering two Ivorians in March 2011. The accused person was picked up by the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) Section of the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) of the Ghana Police Service on Friday, September 28, 2012, three days after he had been granted bail by the Osu District Magistrate Court. Kone is, nonetheless, enjoying the bail granted him by the Osu District Magistrate Court following his discharge on October 24, 2012. He was arrested at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on August 24, 2012 by operatives of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) following a warrant for his arrest issued by an Ivorian court to face robbery charges. Kone, who fled to Ghana after the collapse of Gbagbo’s regime, is alleged to have committed economic crimes when he was a Budget Minister during the three months of crisis and conflict that followed Gbagbo's refusal to cede power to his rival and current President, Mr Alassane Ouattara, in December 2010.

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